Friday, August 08, 2008

De Brief voor de Koning

"Speak truthfully, Tiuri," the King continues, "should you had the opportunity to do solitary, and should you heard the cry for help again.... what would you do?"
Tiuri looks up to the King. Suddenly he feel so certain.
"Than I should do what I did," answer he.
King Dagonaut nods, "You will do what you did, even though you know the consequences. So be the consequences come upon you."

Not very often that I read a literature from Europe Continent, even though one of my favorite writer is Leo Tolstoy and my fairy tales fav for all times is HC Andersen's. And I think this is the first time for me to read a classic Dutch book. The title is De Brief voor de Koning - A Letter for the King, written by Tonke Dragt in 1962, and it had got some awards in its homeland, namely Prijs voor het Beste Kinderboek voor het Jaar 1963 (Price for the Best Children Book Year 1963) and Griffel der Griffels 1955 - 2004 (Script among Scripts 1955 - 2004).

My first impressions while reading the books are that it is worth those prices and - in the same time - it is a short and uncomplicated version of JRRT's Lord of the Rings. There is a young and un-experience boy, choose to carry a burden for a greater good, walk a long and dangerous journey, and by doing that, he save the world, found true friend, and most importantly he grew up to be a well respected man.

So, in one hand, it is a very nice story telling, but in another hand, the ground ideas are common and usual, no twisted ending or startled plot. The best surprises ever come is the incident with the Grey Riders and Mistrinaut Castle, when friends and foes are mixed. The dazzling figure which is the slightly crazy boy from forest hut, is not developed into something awesome, instead he became just a supplement object. The main villain, The Dark Rider with Red Shield is never bring to justice or even being found out his real face. Even though the story is about the hero's journey, I feel that fact as a stumbling block, like the story is not ended properly.

In Indonesia, this book is translated and published by Pena Wormer Publisher with the support from Foundation for Production and Translation of Dutch Literature. The translation and editing is somewhat awkward getting used to read books with perfect translation using Indonesian EYD from Gm and GPU. This book use old Malay vocabularies like "bengawan" (=river) or "pemalaman" (=inn) or "menyarap" instead of "sarapan" (=having breakfast) and sometimes and old Dutch influences vocabularies like "slag" or "kastel" and A LOT of informal grammar. For this, I don't quite sure if it is supposedly to be written that way to give readers the sense of old Dutch literary, or it because the translator just too sloppy. The same way the spelling is all around with too many mistakes.

Another flaw that really irritating is the complimentary map in this book is all mess up. It is not translated, blurred and most annoyed thing, it is placed upside-down, or to be exact, rightside-left. It took me sometimes to realize it, and it was a quite frustrating process.

But by and by, I really like this book. The story is flowing naturally, the hero character is creepingly developed, and the moral of the story is written bluntly yet smoothly implicit in the whole book. I consider it as a valuable goods to enriched my library. -Danke-

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